MANILA (UPDATE)--President Rodrigo Duterte will push through with plans to physically deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa, Malacañang said Monday, even after a lawmaker who was supposed to attend tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed to ABS-CBN News on Monday noon that Duterte will still go to Batasang Pambansa for his annual address, defying threats of possibly contracting the virus.
Earlier, one of the supposed attendees of the President's address, Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel, confirmed that he tested positive for the virus just before the SONA. Pimentel has since forfeited his slot for the SONA.
Aside from Roque, other members of President Duterte's Cabinet who will attend the SONA are Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
Duterte's former close aide Sen. Bong Go had said that having the President deliver the SONA from Malacañang was an option.
"Option 2 'yung sa Malacañang kung sakaling delikado ang sitwasyon... Ang timetable is 2 pm [to finalize the SONA plan]," Go told Senate reporters.
Duterte is set to deliver his penultimate SONA at 4 p.m. before some 50 handpicked officials required to wear face masks and keep distance from each other. All of the attendees were required to undergo COVID-19 swab testing.